John Cleese Desperately Wants to Believe That ‘Monty Python’ Is Canceled
It would be disrespectful and cowardly for the BBC to turn its back on Monty Python, one of Britain's greatest entertainment exports, and erase its impact from the annals of British TV history — which is exactly why they’ve never done that, despite whatever the hell John Cleese is talking about now.
Earlier this week, Monty Python’s crankiest conservative mouthpiece took to Twitter to demand that the BBC explain why it has not broadcast any Monty Python content in the last two decades. Cleese’s caterwauling reached the conservative comedy community who lamented that the classic show Monty Python’s Flying Circus is far too “based” for modern media giants to allow onto the airwaves.
There’s just one small problem — the BBC hasn’t banned Monty Python at all. They ran an entire evening of Python programming as recently as 2019, despite the fact that Python sold the rights to its back catalog to Netflix the year prior. In an absolutely shocking turn of events, a conservative comedian’s cloud-yelling campaign was based on easily disproved factual inaccuracies.
Cleese’s complaints were quickly corrected by TV playout director John Hoare, who informed the incensed comedy legend, “I sat in BBC Two’s pres suite on the 7th September 2019, prepped an episode of Monty Python for transmission as part of an evening of Python-related programmes, and then put it on air, if that helps.” Other commenters pointed out that Cleese himself was part of the 2018 deal to sell the international rights for Monty Python’s back catalog to Netflix, so railing against a network that doesn't have the rights to Flying Circus for not broadcasting the show is like screaming at PBS for refusing to air The Sopranos.
Following Cleese’s factually incorrect complaining, fellow conservative comedian Rob Schneider smugly tweeted of the BBC’s alleged alienation of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, “They haven’t finished editing out the parts that don’t fit into their ideology. Which is the the (sic) entire series!”
This is far from the first time that the work of Monty Python, the quintessential counterculture comedy troupe, has been co-opted by conservatives who mistakenly believe that the people who wrote “The Ministry of Silly Walks” were subtly railing against a “woke mob” that wouldn’t emerge until four decades after Flying Circus went off the air. The contemporary politics of the remaining Monty Python members are plainly divided — Cleese and his collaborator Eric Idle have come out on opposite sides of the exhausting culture wars — but the idea that Python’s early work is too conservative for modern “woke” audiences is completely absurd to anyone who has actually watched the show, which, apparently, does not include Schneider.
This is not the first time that Cleese has spread this exact same falsehood — in 2020, he claimed that it had been 20 years since BBC had aired Python, and he blamed the imagined censorship for his dwindling popularity among the youth, saying, "Now young people have no idea who I am, and it seems odd as I think they would enjoy Python.” It’s incredibly telling that Cleese, who recently inked a new TV deal to continue complaining about how silenced he is, has to fabricate these incidents of censorship to prove his own oppression.
The idea that anyone would voice complaints about being silenced on platforms as large as Cleese’s while being demonstrably incorrect is so absurd that the whole ordeal feels like a sketch straight out of Flying Circus. If you’re Rob Schneider, you might need help understanding that last point — Flying Circus is Monty Python’s old TV show.